Over the last couple of decades, ketamine has risen in popularity as a mainstream depression treatment.

This breakthrough treatment marked a major step forward for mental health treatments and is paving the way for future research and development. Through its unique effects as an NMDA-receptor antagonist, ketamine has shown that other neurotransmitters—specifically, neurotransmitters other than serotonin—play a larger role than previously thought in regulating mood and promoting long-lasting feelings of happiness and comfort. With its increasingly common use as a treatment for depression, many doctors and patients alike have inquired about the potential side effects of low-dose ketamine infusions.   

In the last decade, nearly all research has shown that low doses of ketamine are relatively safe; they show a little-to-no risk of developing a dependency, and offer a host of benefits including memory adaptations, pain relief, and the aforementioned antidepressant effects. In fact, according to one article, a recent study concluded that, besides the occasional short-term side effects like dissociation, increased blood pressure, and nausea—most of which pass within 2-hours of an infusion—that, “at least in the short term, ketamine appears safe.” This is great news for those who are desperate to treat their treatment-resistant mental health conditions. 

These positive results are not surprising, though, given that ketamine has already earned and maintained its status as an essential medicine according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, the recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of esketamine—an intranasal antidepressant with a chemical composition that mirrors the ketamine molecule—only offers more advocacy for its use as a safe and effective depression treatment. 

Since ketamine works to relieve depression much faster than any other previously available treatments—and the side effects of ketamine seem only to be minor discomforts in the very short-term—its use and further research is likely to continue to grow. Through the intravenous administration of low-dose ketamine, many people who have struggled with treatment-resistant depression now have the opportunity to find long-term relief and, thus, live richer, fuller lives…sooner. 

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